Exhibit: Addiction

I am broken. All humans are, but I sometimes feel more fractured than most.

These past couple days I have found myself beaten and downtrodden. With all the things that are happening in the world (the cruelty, the callousness, the secrecy), to the death of my “bear cub,” to the stress of my impending licensing exam, I have found it hard to see the “bright side.” As a result, my addiction has reared its ugly head and shown me, without a doubt, that I am a sex addict.

For many, it’s not a real addiction. Supposed “sex therapists” have denounced it because there isn’t a substance in which one abuses. However, fun fact, the rush one feels during orgasm is just as powerful as a shot of heroine. So, there’s that. Regardless of the few naysayers, there is a program out there (I am apart of) and rehab centers that deal with the addiction.

I’ve been in the program since the summer of 2009. I should have been in a lot earlier because my addiction started with pornography when I was around 12. Back in the old dial-up days, I use to peruse galleries of images and would not stop until I had viewed every image. (In a gallery of 400+ pictures, that is quite the task.)

At the time, I was also a “devout” Christian and the images I viewed (and have only ever searched) were gay. So the addiction cycle of shame and guilt came all too easy to me.

Over the years it has progressed to insane levels and taken me into directions and places I never thought I could or would go. But that’s the nature of the beast.

The notion most people have is that “it’s all about sex.” And, speaking for myself, I know that to not be the case. There is something else attached to the whole situation to where I have tricked myself into thinking that it makes me feel better. It likes to make me think that it is some temporary band-aid in times of distress or sadness. When I was younger I used it to soothe my conflicting feelings about my sexuality. In the waning months of 17, I wielded it to cope with the break-up I didn’t see coming and subsequently never dealt with.

Where it becomes crystal clear, is that I have a husband and a boyfriend and my mind immediately goes to wanting to hook-up (or what we call in the program as “acting out.”) If it was about sex the need would be met, but it is still there as an “answer” to what ails me.

Some may be surprised to know that there is more to sex than just the act. There is the chase of finding someone physically attractive, the provocative and alluring conversation heightening the excitement and anticipation, the ritual of saying certain phrases or doing things in a particular order, and then there’s the ultimate goal of meeting with this person who one has deified… All of it is consuming. Yet, what follows (for me especially) is the shame and guilt, making one feel worse than they did before and thus perpetuating the cycle.

The piece I find bizarre, is the act of not doing something destructive makes me feel sick.

I attempted to break my sobriety. I reached out to someone, made a plan, and then, when I fought hard against the want and desire to do that, I found myself feeling physically ill. I sounded like a mad man, repeating the same line over and over again, “just don’t download the app.” Yet, what did I do? I did exactly that, disappointing myself. My immediate act though, was to flake on the person I had spoken to and thus ending any chance of doing something that would have hurt my husband and boyfriend, and, primarily, myself.

So, I live to fight another day!

Everyone that needed to know of what was transpiring knows.  Now comes the task of trying to find something healthy and productive to pull me out of this goddamn funk.

One of them is writing.

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Inebriated Confessions

The truth is something we all think we want but very rarely do we accept it or really even want it. Most of the time, people hear what they want and it turns into something else by way of preconceived notions or baggage.

This weekend I got something I’ve been longing to have for some time and that is: the truth. The real truth. For whatever reason, my husband felt fit to offer it to me. It could have been his own want to have no secrets but it could have been the liquid courage. Honestly it’s probably a combination of the two. Regardless the reasons, he poured it out and I accepted what he had to say.

The thing is what he told me I already knew in my gut. After all the bull shit and infidelity on my part there was no way any normal person would put up with my shit. And I don’t blame him. The only thing I felt was relief. Finally I had the knowledge that while my transgressions are terrible I am not alone.

In the morning, in mild sobriety, I told him (whether it needed to be said or not) that I forgave him. It wasn’t for him, because I don’t think he needs or wants it. I did it for myself, plain and simple. From that moment on I wanted to go forth with honesty and integrity. The only way to do that was to leave all the baggage in the past and move forward. I don’t want to hold resentments. (Which is my default, by the way.)

While, I don’t remember all he told me (unfortunate side effect of being thoroughly fucked up on vodka redbulls) I remember some and it was the stuff that my brain and gut had sensed forever. Now knowing, I have the peace I need to move past my worries and fears. It also gave me a glimpse into my husband. And it was nice.

It’s hard being vulnerable. The truth/honesty leaves one at the mercy of the listener. I again wonder what prompted it, or why he felt it was the time to do it then, but I am thankful for that moment. And I will be forever I think.

I just wish I had at least taken notes to remember it all. Some of it lost in the inebriated crevasses of my brain. Maybe I don’t need to be reminded. Most likely the latter.

However this whole situation plays out, at least it won’t be bogged down by lies and secrets.

A Seer Reads the Stones

It’s going to be hard, but doable, not to read into the actions and words during this time. When I’m left with no answers and my mind is searching for some sense of stability or ‘realness’ I begin to look for the answers around me. Like when Charlie sleeps on the complete opposite side of the bed, where he used to hog all of it, is that a subliminal message that he’s trying to get away? Or when the last two days he’s been chatty and we’ve spent the evening holding each other and talking, and then it doesn’t happen is it different? Did something change?

The answers I divine to why are all stupid and probably not true. The further proof of this fact is that these are all my interpretations of perceived realities. For all I know the bed just feels bigger because of how I feel right now. I feel small and insignificant. Thus the spaces in between are vast and seemingly unending.

Then, like last night, charlie was tired and spoke very little and quickly turned around and fell asleep. Not at all like the past two nights. I could see that as he’s getting closer to this other dude or it was just that he’s a 40 year old man who is currently juggling a husband and a boyfriend. I could very well see how that in itself is exhausting and when you’re tired, you’re tired. (Not saying 40 is old.)

The thing about reading our own meaning into anything is that the pendulum can swing either way. It doesn’t matter what the facts are, they can be read in such a way that it is misinterpreted as negative. Case a point, Charlie was reading into my actions as wanting him to end the relationship because I couldn’t do it myself. In reality I was angry at him because I knew about the Derek thing and instead of talking to him or asking him about it I chose to keep it to myself which further drove a rift into our relationship. I was angry. As it also turned out, I was genuinely furious with and blamed him for our dog Klause getting out of the yard back in November. It was these things that made me angry with him and I was very cold to him as a response. It had nothing to do with me wanting to end the relationship, but that’s how he saw it.

Instead of talking to him and voicing these fears I kept them bottled up inside. They festered and made me feel something else entirely. If I had just done the “adult” thing and had a discussion about all of it, none of this may have transpired. My reality may have looked totally different. Yet, even that, right there, is me reading into it.

I want to think that “looking for answers” is a natural human response. It is our way of attempting to take the control back in a situation in which we feel we have none. We don’t like uncertainty and living in a “zen-like” state of letting life wash over us is against our usual factory defaults.

It’s a Brave New World…

…At least that’s what I keep saying to myself, and have been since December when I asked for an open relationship.

My husband doesn’t recall our conversation, in January, when we agreed to close it. I can specifically remember the location and how I felt in the moment in which I snapped and agreed. I then changed all of my stuff on all the apps and went back to that mindset. As it turns out, he was under the assumption we were still open which is when he started talking to this other dude.

We have talked a lot since our initial conversation on Saturday. What I have since learned, was that the reason he spoke to his mother about the state of our relationship and telling her about Derek (his boyfriend) was because he thought it was over between us. He had planned on ending things with me that night because he thought I was waiting for him to pull the trigger. However, when we talked on the car ride home from my parents, after St. Patrick’s Day dinner, his mind changed. What I told him was I wasn’t done. And I’m not. Like I mentioned in my previous post, regarding my midlife crisis, I was on the fence of what to do. I wanted to be single but I also wanted to stay in my relationship because at my core that is what I want. But, I also want to be single. Evenly distributed. (I’m kind of fucked up.)

After our conversation last night I have found further peace with this arrangement, which is basically a polyamorous relationship. I have my boyfriend (I hesitate to use that word for the baggage it brings) and he will have his. At least, for the time being. (It should be noted all four of us have deleted grindr and scruff, further upping the ante.)

A friend of mine, back when we were wrestling with it just being an “open relationship,” told me that we both have to be in agreement, and if one of us isn’t in it, the situation has to end. He is/was right. Which is why I have informed the husband that at the moment he is uncomfortable (and the husband said “I agree”) I will not hesitate to pull the chord on this arrangement. Now, whether he still feels that way in a few weeks, months or years (however long this fucking lasts) may be something else entirely. I just can’t be too concerned with thinking that far ahead. (I can hear the voice of my besty, Shelby, and her subsequent eye-roll, informing me how I’m being stupid.)

I have made peace with the notion that if he ends up ‘head over heels’ with this dude and would rather be with him I will be okay. I mean, of course I will. It will hurt like a mother-fucker, but I will remind myself I set this situation into motion. As he likes to remind me, I chose this. I asked for it when I wanted the open relationship and I chose it (yet again) when we talked the day after the car ride home. He set forth 3 options and I chose the ‘keep things the way they are and stay together but see these side pieces’ plan for only 5.99 a month.

I have no illusions to the contrary that this is absolutely playing with fire. Emotions WILL run high. And someone will be hurt in the end. The gamble is, who is going to be hurt. In the effort of full disclosure I have let my guy, Josh, know everything. I have not hid the fact of what is transpiring. I even want to send him the contact info of my previous ex for further reference to the agony that comes with dating me. I am trouble, plain and simple.

One of the changes I am making, to keep myself sane in this insanity, is to not read into the actions he takes and any assumed underlying message in what my husband says to me. My previous post was me reading into what he said way more than I should have. My therapist said that if we do this there has to be trust and I am just going to trust that he will be honest with me. What he says is what he says. If it turns out that there wasn’t any honesty in his words I imagine I will find out by our relationship ending.

I just find it odd that my husband, who has such anxiety about the future and how things will play out, is okay with this. For once he’s living in the moment and that is some major change. We’re both changing evidently.

The one thought I came to today was that we had previously known of similar situations with other couples in the past and we poo-pooed them and judged. I think we were just belittling them in an effort to tamp down our own desire for something similar. I probably shouldn’t be thinking that because it’s reading into things I shouldn’t. (It’s going to be a hard habit to break.) I just can’t help but look at it the same way I did when I was denying my sexuality. I vehemently hated gay people because I thought if I hated it enough outwardly it would kill that part of myself inside. Well, we see how that worked out.

I probably shouldn’t be airing my dirty laundry, but I have only one story to tell honestly and speak on with certainty and that is my own.

Stay tuned for further episodes of “Gays of Our Lives.”

Lost at Sea, a Letter of Confusion and Mental Health

I am almost certain I am going through a mid-life crisis. At least, I hope it’s not “mid life” because I would like to think I’d live past 64. One side of the family has early death rates and the other lived into their 90’s. So, who fucking knows?

When I was 25 I thought I was having a quarter-life crisis but I quickly discovered it in fact was due to the Prozac I was taking. In my own trials, I discovered that when it doesn’t work it has the opposite effect. Instead of making me not-depressed it made me erratic and I made broad sweeping decisions about my employment that made me look like a fool. In the end I survived my irrational choices without damage.

Having that memory in the back of my mind, I worry that this is just another one of those moments, however I am currently not on meds and that may play a part in it. All I am certain of, is right now I am in a very weird place.

It all began at Christmas time. I had lost all desire to shop, sure I put up the decorations but my usual Christmas cheer was AWOL. The only reason I ended up purchasing gifts at all is because I would have looked like an asshole come Christmas day and everyone I care about had gotten me something but I had not returned the favor. Social decorum kept me in check, but deep down I wanted no part of the holiday.

I sought the help of my psychiatrist and he came to the conclusion that I might be bipolar type II. The diagnosis angered me, as if I was somehow “broken” but I thought I would humor him at least. (He is the professional after all.) My doctor prescribed me a medication that made me very, very uncomfortable physically and emotionally. The most significant side effect was during that time period it made me really question my relationship and where it was going. I volleyed between staying together and splitting up. Although no side had more power over the other. They were equally matched in every way. It was almost as if it was making me bipolar. For the second time in my life, I felt truly insane.

Still on this medication, and grappling with these emotions, I asked my husband for a temporary separation. Well, I didn’t ask for it. He offered it up in the moment and I took it. For a week (probably less) we lived apart. Eventually, he came back home and we haven’t really discussed anything since then. Which the fault lies on both of us, but probably more-so on myself.

Yet, I am still in this peculiar area of where I have no idea where I’m going or what I’m doing. Most importantly, what I want. I have this type of personality that I fear and hesitate to make the “wrong” choice. I sit there and suffer, contemplating everything down to a fine point, until I expect everything to make sense. What unfortunately ends up happening is I gain no clarity. I see the merits on both sides and still sit in the middle; undecided.

When I returned to my doctor for my trial period follow-up, he told me he had fallen into a “conundrum.” He had no diagnosis for me that seemed to stick. We had tried the depression and the bipolar type II and found no success. His final suggestion to solve our medical quandary was for me to have psychiatric evaluation. The prescription pad leaflet for it still sits in my center console of my car. No appointment date set. I fear what the conclusion will be.

My biggest concern is that I will come back with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder or something equally as drastic. I worry daily that it would show me that I don’t know what love is and don’t have the capacity to return the emotion. Like I’m some kind of sociopath. Such results I would see as a death sentence, that I am fundamentally, at my core, fucked up beyond repair. However, I would NEVER view such results for someone else in that manner. I would be supportive and try to be there for them. (I think.) I just don’t have that kind of kindness for myself.

Currently, I loathe to say it, I am lost. I am in uncharted waters of which I have no map and see no land on the horizon. Yet I am still captain of this ship and it will inevitably keep moving regardless of my choices.

The Night I Met My Husband

On this November the first, I celebrate my husband’s and my 4 year wedding anniversary and 14 years as a couple. It’s weird to think about how much time we’ve been together, yet here we are. And what’s most peculiar is how we were introduced purely by accident.

I have told the story numerous times on my blog, but I will do so yet again because it is one of those tales that intrigues me for the utter random happenstance of the whole thing.

Picture it, it was the height of AOL days, 2004. I would spend my late-teen evenings chatting with my friends online through IM or through a typical chatroom known as BakersfieldM4M. My friends and I would log on and broadcast one large conversation in the room, while simultaneously having our own individual private chats. This is where my now husband, then unknown, logged into the room and happen to see my username: MelancholysChaos. (Yeah, I’m rolling my eyes too.) He then confused me with someone else and decided to message and inform me that indeed he and Diego were still together. Being the sarcastic almost-eighteen-year-old I was, I acted as though I knew what he was referring to and carried on a conversation until I got bored and flat out asked him who he was. He told me his name, Charlie, and I added him to my buddylist after I learned that my very recent ex, Travis, had been a big fan of his. However, Charlie had not been attracted to my ex in the slightest, which brought me joy. (And when I say recent here, I mean a week to a couple days.)

For whatever reason, I would message this stranger whenever he came online, which wasn’t that often. Almost a week after letting me know he and Diego were still a thing, he let me know they weren’t. To which he proceeded to ask me out on a late night date to Denny’s.

It should be noted that I was still living at home and attending high school, in my senior year. So, for me to do a late night date I had to sneak out of my bedroom window and “borrow” the station wagon. To give the illusion that I was still in my bedroom, and not out galavanting around town, I put a coat hanger on my door-knob to where it slid in between the crack of my dresser and the wall. It was the most white-trash lock I could concoct but it served its purpose. To add to the illusion of my presence, I put on one of my favorite Disney movies, Sleeping Beauty. I quietly backed out of the driveway, started my car on the street, and made my way across town to Denny’s.

Again, for whatever reason, that night I chose to wear a pair of kahki’s and a red polo shirt with blue stripes. I tell you this because it was VERY out of character for me at this stage in my life. I was very much “goth” at the time. I wore nothing but black t-shirts, black dickie’s, black converse, and black eye-liner. I even dyed my hair black to match how I felt on the inside. (I was going through a phase.) Like I said, for some reason I did not wear any of that. As I later learned, if I had our relationship would very much have ended that evening. My husband liked him some preppy boys. Anything that remotely deviated from that path was shunned.

I pulled into a spot facing the empty street and as I got out of my shaggin-wagon I saw this white mustang drive by and turn into the same shopping center. Somehow I knew that was this dude. He hadn’t even told me what kind of car he drove but I was certain of it. (Those are the kind of thoughts one has when they encounter fate.) And I turned out to be correct.

For the next hour we sat in a booth having lame conversation as we attempted to get to know each other. He had a silver Motorola flip-phone that he kept spinning nervously in between his other facial tics. He kept rubbing the middle knuckle of his index finger along the side of mouth, like someone does when they have a goatee. Later I found out that he had briefly had one and developed the habit. My husband also has a tendency to twitch his nose in the most adorable way when he’s nervous and that night it didn’t stop.

As the evening wore on, neither of us having eaten anything at Denny’s, (I imagine he got a diet soda, his drug of choice) we decided to go back to his place.

I don’t remember if I messaged a friend to say I was going over to a stranger’s house in the wee hours of the morning. I want to think that I did, but more than likely not because I was (and still am) an idiot that thinks nothing of potential dangers.

He lived in this old brick face building downtown that had once been an elder care facility back in the day. It was also located across the street from a former morgue-funeral home (which is where we would later hold our wedding reception.) He lived on the second floor, at the front of the building with a beautiful view of downtown. Bakersfield isn’t much, but the view he had was wonderful.

He fancied himself a collector of DVDs at the time and was showing me the small tower he had amassed. The film he chose that night for us to watch had been decided at Denny’s when I told him that I had never seen “Philadelphia.” Now, he claims he had never seen it too, but I distinctly remember him saying that it was one of Hanks’s best roles. He popped the disc into the tray and we watched the 2 hour long movie about a man dying of AIDS. How romantic.

A remnant of my former relationship with Travis, some thin rubber wrist bands, chose that evening to break and I ended up throwing them away. I think they split when he discovered that I was ticklish and I was wrestling to get away. What a surreal picture to make a romantic connection with someone as we watched a man waste away from a deadly disease at the height of its terror.

When the movie ended he walked me to my car, like a gentleman, and I kissed him. I was annoyed that, that was all we ended up doing, but he wanted to wait until I turned 18, which was only a few weeks away.

I drove away that night thinking I would probably never hear from him again. Oh, how wrong I was. The dude blew up my phone. He was an over-the-road trucker at the time and had looooong hours of nothing to do, so he would call me and keep me on the phone late into the evening.

Looking back, I was so young and stupid. I had no idea what I wanted or who I was. Yet, we seemed to work. It is true that our lives have gone up and down over the past fourteen years. Nothing is ever perfect. For a brief year we ended our relationship yet continued to live together and sleep in the same bed. We were crazy and confused. But, there is truly no one else I would want to go through this with than Charlie. He is perfect in the strangest ways and we compliment each other like a broken window pane. Apart we are two jagged pieces of glass, but together we make the other whole. It’s sappy, but it’s true.

Unexpected Thought Provoking Projections

Every person has that one musical artist that they identify with and call their own. Each song they sing sounds like the words from their own heart and they hold that person up as some mystical creature to be cherished. For me it’s Robbie Williams. I know, weird. I came upon him in my most formative days of my youth when I was obsessed with anything and everything British. I so badly wanted to live across the pond and when the music video of an ex-boyband, turned bad boy, showed up in a random cluster of music videos, singing about the “Millennium” I was entranced. I bought his album”The Ego has Landed” and found myself entranced by each track and even a little frightened at times to where his music was taking me. The song “Karma Killer” made me feel so uncomfortable, because it was such a departure from what I had been listening to.  It was dark and curious.

I have followed the man’s musical catalog since then. I even went online and purchased his UK only releases and a great many posters to decorate the wall of my American home with this British singer. He was a god to me. I’ve loved (almost) every one of his albums. (Rudebox was just not my cup of tea.) I have found that since he parted ways with Guy Chambers I haven’t been a slob for his music as I had once been. Now he has to really try to get me rocking out in my car.

His most recent album “The Heavy Entertainment Show” is pretty good. There a few songs that make me go, “meh” but overall I’m belting out each lyric in my car as I speed down the freeway. While I was working today, I chose that one to blare on my car speakers and there are two tracks that he wrote for his children that brought up a topic in my head I couldn’t shake.

The songs are great. The one to his daughter is “Love my Life” and is this beautiful melody that wins me every time. The one for his son is “Motherfucker.” Don’t let the title mislead you. The song is a rock-ish romp about how everyone in his family has a past where they have battled their demons. It’s really good, and it’s super fun to sing “motherfucker.”

The tracks made me realize how parents tend to project these ideas, personalities, personas, and lives onto their children. Before they have truly developed their own identity, Robbie wants his daughter to have a charmed life where she loves every facet of it. That idea in itself is strange because no one, no matter how pampered their life has been, will escape the harsh reality of “human experience.” But I understand the want for your child to find joy. We all want that. But it’s silly to think that’s even achievable.

The other song  is projecting this idea of masculinity or rebelliousness on his son. He very well may be just as rambunctious as his father but then again he may not. It’s interesting to me how he would even consider that as something his son would have to fight, but not his daughter. He even calls his wife crazy in the song as a reason his son will be a “bad motherfucker.” Shouldn’t she have the opportunity to battle the shadows of the past?

I know he meant nothing harmful in these songs. It’s beautiful that he would even write something for them. I just think it brings to light a problem we have as a society.

In addition, this notion was exacerbated for me when a friend of mine posted a set of photos that were “gender reveal” cakes. And on them were the most stereotypical ideals of what it is to be a boy or girl. One was “Lures or Lace” and another was “guns or glitter.” I like none of those things. Do I have no gender identity?

I think we as a collective look at our children to fix the mistakes that we made or expect them to not have any at all. I think it also perpetuates this idea that girls are delicate creatures that bruise at the slightest touch and boys are tough as nails and up for a fight. And it begs the question, do we grow into these stereotypes that our parents project onto us, or are we our authentic selves?

When I look at my own life, I don’t know if my parents had any kind of expectations of me. Other than me being a good person and marrying a woman and having hundreds of babies, there was nothing else they wanted of me. (Boy did I let them down.) They never forced me into sports, they always encouraged my artistic side. They let me develop as I went along.

I know that if my husband and I do adopt (which we better fucking do, goddamnit) I want to make sure they know they can be and do whatever they want. I will hold no other expectation out of them than to respect those that are around them, and to treat others with courtesy, no matter how terrible they find themselves being treated  in return.

I will say, if they don’t love Robbie like I do, I may have to disown them. However, I let my husband’s dislike of him slide. So, what’s one more under the wire?